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After the Introductory Rites during the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word begins. You will see a reader (lector) walking up to the sanctuary and make a bow before he/she walks up to the ambo/pulpit to deliver the first reading. Who or what is the lector bowing to? Sharing an article published in Zenit.org

Question:
I have been asking lay readers at the parish to bow to the presider of the Mass when they approach the sanctuary to proclaim their reading. I remembered studying this in the seminary when reviewing the proper gestures and postures of the people during Mass, as well as those participating in the liturgical ministries. In my parish church the tabernacle is in the center and the priest sits to the left of the altar. The pulpit is to the right. From reading Church documents, I have been only able to identify the person they should bow to in Masses where the bishop presides. From a theological as well as liturgical point of view, it is my understanding that the priest as presider (in persona Christi) at the Mass is where the liturgical ministers would bow, signifying they are participating in his ministry as presider. Am I instructing the people correctly? And is there a particular liturgical document that covers this area well for instruction? ~ G.D., Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Answer:
This question is often broached and is sometimes subject to degrees of confusion. First of all, I would say that, strictly speaking, it is not correct to say that readers are sharing in the ministry of the priest celebrant. Rather, they are fulfilling a specific lay ministry within the celebration itself.

In fact, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), No. 59, clearly excludes the presidential character of reading in the Latin rite, to wit: “By tradition, the function of proclaiming the readings is ministerial, not presidential. The readings, therefore, should be proclaimed by a lector, and the Gospel by a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant. If, however, a deacon or another priest is not present, the priest celebrant himself should read the Gospel. Further, if another suitable lector is also not present, then the priest celebrant should also proclaim the other readings.”

Not every liturgical gesture requires a theological foundation. Some are customary signs of courtesy and respect that add overall decorum to the celebration.

Monsignor (now bishop) Peter Elliott describes the reader’s bow in his “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”: “The lector (comes to the sanctuary and) makes the customary reverences; first bowing deeply to the altar , then bowing to the celebrant, before going to the ambo …”

The sanctuary situation described here seems to correspond to that of our ZENIT reader’s parish church. Two bows are described. The first bow toward the altar is based on the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 72: “A deep bow is made to the altar by all who enter the sanctuary (chancel), leave it, or pass before the altar.”

The second bow, toward the priest celebrant, is not explicitly prescribed in the liturgical books, but may be considered as customary and based on an extension of the indications for reverence toward bishops in the Ceremonial, Nos. 76-77:

“The bishop is greeted with a deep bow by the ministers or others when they approach to assist him, when they leave after assisting him, or when they pass in front of him.

“When the bishop’s chair is behind the altar, the ministers should reverence either the altar or the bishop, depending on whether they are approaching the altar or approaching the bishop; out of reverence for both, ministers should, as far as possible, avoid passing between the bishop and the altar.”

It is noteworthy that none of these texts explicitly mention readers, and are only applicable insofar as they enter or leave the sanctuary, or, in a very broad sense, assist the presiding celebrant. It does not appear that these bows form a stable and obligatory part of the rites for those who exercise the ministry of reader.

Indeed, in describing the Liturgy of the Word the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 137, makes no mention of any bows: “After the opening prayer, the reader goes to the ambo and proclaims the first reading “

Therefore if, for example, the seating arrangements are such that the readers are in the sanctuary from the beginning of Mass and have no need to cross in front of the altar, they could exercise their ministry without making any of these bows.

ROME, NOV. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

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Both hands at elevation of Host

During Mass at the consecration of the Host, you may notice that the celebrant use only one hand while others use both hands to hold up the Host. Here’s an interesting question.

Q: At the consecration of the bread at Mass, is the priest required to hold the host up with two hands? In our church, the priest raises the host with only one hand in a rather casual manner. This makes me almost cry, as I cannot help but think that this gives a message of irreverence to the church community. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. ~ K.S., Frankfurt, Germany

Find out the answer at Zenit.org.

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Being late for an event or an occasion usually has its reasons. Being caught in a traffic jam, the bus was slow in travelling, bogged down by the weather be it rain or snow etc. This extends to Catholics to observe punctuality in the celebration of the Eucharist. There are occasions when latecomers arrive just before the Readings. Others may arrive just before the Gospel reading. Some arrive for Mass just before Holy Communion, and leaves right after receiving it. Some may say that so long as you arrive for Mass just before the Readings or the Gospel reading, it is ok given that they have heard the most important part of the Mass which is Word of God. Others may say that receiving Holy Communion is the most important part of the Mass. I can come to Church at the point during the Mass when the distribution of Holy Communion occurs and leave straightaway after receiving it.

Reasons for being late for Mass or having to leave early will only be known to the individual. Some reasons for being late for Mass are genuine, like the need to rush from/to work where the individual makes all earnest efforts to be present throughout the entire celebration but is unable to do so. On the other hand, reasons due to poor punctuality habits may give rise for it to become a genuine reason. Is there a timeline during the proceedings of the Mass where it is considered that the Mass is invalid or valid if you arrive in Church before/after that timeline? What about leaving the Mass before it ends?

Here’s some articles for a meaningful read.

Communion for late arrivals at Mass?

Arriving after the Gospel, No Communion

Leaving right after Communion

Like any host of a banquet, the good Lord invites your presence throughout the entire celebration of the Eucharist.

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Do you happen to see parishioners coming to church for Mass in singlets, short bermudas and flip-flop slippers? Perhaps even in an attire as though one has just got out of bed? This is where in the days of old when you hear the saying “Dress in your Sunday’s best” for it is a day to dress presentably and modestly as we present ourselves before the Lord in celebrating the Eucharist. Sharing an article below.

PLEASE, COME TO CHURCH APPROPRIATELY DRESSED!

To be modestly dressed is a sign of respect for God, for ourselves, and for oneself. It’s a false assumption that God does not care how we dress. Jesus told us “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do it to me.” If our attire is indecently provocative as per wearing short shorts, strapless, backless, spaghetti strap dresses/tops, or displaying cleavage, it becomes offensive to our brothers and sisters who are worshipping the Lord and therefore offensive to God’s Majesty. Ask this question: “Would you dress this way before God?” You are! He sees everything and you are in His house. Modesty is the proper Christians attire. If being too warm is your issue, it would be preferable for you to dress properly and attend a Church that can provide air-conditioning. ~ from a parish bulletin.

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Can the celebration of the Eucharist be held in a classroom? Or perhaps in the parish hall? What happens when certain parts of the church building is undergoing renovation that does not allow the Mass to be celebrated in the area ought to? What guidelines are there with regards to the location for the celebration of the Eucharist? Here’s an article from Zenit which may interest you.

Question: Should a school classroom be used for the celebration of Mass when the parish church is close enough for children to get to easily, and the church (or a smaller chapel within it) is available? ~ S.H., Lancashire, England

Read the full text.

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Missing Mass

During last week small group sharing, a question was posed. Why do Catholics go to Church for Mass? “Because it is something ‘we have’ to do once a week.” someone said. Another said: “Because Sunday is considered a holy day of obligation. That’s why we must go to Church.” Another person replied: “Because Sunday is the Lord’s Day.”

All the above answers are correct in their respective sense. But to bring it further, what about our very own desire to spend that one hour in celebrating the Eucharist in our worship to God by our presence as well as with the presence of the entire community of believers?

I was visiting relatives recently, and sadly they do not attend Mass. I went to Mass, and reminded them that missing Mass was a mortal sin. They said, “Oh, that was in the old days. Missing Mass is no longer a mortal sin.” What do you say?

Read the full text by Fr William Saunders as this question was posed about Missing Mass.

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Why do Catholics go to Mass? Must go? Why does the priest wears different coloured clothes at different parts of a year? What is that round white wafer thing you eat during Mass? Why do you refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God? Since Catholics celebrate the Mass every Sunday, does it mean that Jesus keep on dying week after week?

Some FAQs which we may find it rather difficult to fathom for a simple answer. Came across the following site at www.catholicmass.org and the following could be somthing of an interesting read.

1. 101 Questions about the Catholic Mass by Fr Theodore Book (Director), Office of Divine Worship, Archdiocese of Atlanta.

2. Catholic Mass Study Guide
Study Guide – Introduction
Study Guide – Session 1
Study Guide – Session 2
Study Guide – Session 3
Study Guide – Session 4
Study Guide – Session 5
Study Guide – Session 6
Study Guide – Session 7

Hope you find it an enlightening read. Do share around.

All credits goes to www.catholicmass.org


The Catholic Mass is the most sacred act of worship a person can participate in upon earth. At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ, sat down with his chosen Apostles for what He knew would be their last meal together. At that supper, Jesus does something new, something never done before, and yet something which continues until the end of time.

Knowing more about the Mass, we can be closer to Christ and to the miracle He left us on that Holy Thursday night.

“The Catholic Mass…Revealed!” (www.catholicmass.org) is designed to help all people, whether Catholic or not, to better understand the miracle of the Mass. We can come to appreciate its beauty, its rhythm, even why many in history have faced death rather than be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the Mass.

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